Little People Book Reviews

Including children and young adult book reviews

A study has shown that the number of children reading for fun has fallen since 2005. The Guardian article stated that three in 10 children read daily in their own time. If you find these statistics startling - read the following for some book ideas for your little people.

Book Reviews for Little People: Ages 0-5
Book Reviews for Tweens: Ages 6-12
Book Reviews for Young Adults: Ages 13-17
Book Information

Book Reviews for Little People: Ages 0-5

Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein Book Cover of Dinosaur Kisses by Beatrix Potter

Very young children tend to have great energy, and they have a joyful, infectious sort of hubris to boot. Caldecott Honor-winning author/illustrator David Ezra Stein knows this and embodies this energy in Dinah, a baby dinosaur, the star of his new picture book, Dinosaur Kisses. Dinah hatches newly from her egg and heads out: “There was so much to see and do.” She stomps and chomps with the grace of a sumo wrestler, but it’s when she sees two prehistoric creatures kissing that she’s determined to try this herself. It’s big, loud fun for rowdy, raucous toddlers. Mwah!. This review was from Julie Danielson at BookPage.

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This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Book Cover of This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

A sequel to the bestselling I Want My Hat Back, this is as funny and minimalist as its predecessor. The audacious little fish who steals a hat from a much bigger fish is sure he'll get away with it … readers know better. Any darkness in the subject is more than compensated for by the lightness of the storytelling. Recommended by Julia Eccleshare of The Guardian as one of the best children's books for 2012 for 3+.

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Rosie's Magic Horse by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Book Cover of Rosie's Magic Horse by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake

What use are ice-lolly sticks when all the lovely sweetness has melted? No use! That's what most sticks think, but luckily, one of the sticks collected by Rosie has a more positive spin on the future: he dreams of a wonderful new life in which he becomes a horse. Russell Hoban's enchanting story sets Quentin Blake's prancing lolly-stick horses galloping across cities and jungles and over oceans and deserts on a quest for pirate gold. Recommended by Julia Eccleshare of The Guardian as one of the best children's books for 2012 for 3+.

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Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum

Book Cover of Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum

we find out that two people are anxious about the first day: mom and son. At first, the oversized boy bounces out of bed while the nervous mom (small and washed in anxious blue) drags her feet. Using color, size and varying perspectives to show the emotions of both generations of kindergartners, Hyewon Yum captures the nerves, bravado and excitement of the first day. This book rated five stars on BookPage.

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A Very Naughty Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Book Cover of A Very Naughty Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

This is a unique collection of specially selected classic tales following some of Beatrix Potter's naughtiest characters. Each tale is followed by reproductions of humorous letters written by Beatrix in the style of the characters in each tale. But most important of all are the 'Take Heed' sections, where we find out if the naughty characters really have learned their lesson. The eleven tales are: "The Tale of Peter Rabbit"; "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny"; "The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies"; "The Tale of Two Bad Mice"; "The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck"; "The Tale of Tom Kitten"; "The Story of Miss Moppet"; "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher"; "The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding"; "The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin"; and, "The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit". This Gift Edition is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Guess How Much I Love You Pop Up Edition by Sam McBratneyBook Cover of Guess How Much I Love You Pop Up Edition by Sam McBratney

With sales of over 23 million copies, Guess How Much I Love You tells the story of a game Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare play as they try to express their love for each other. This gorgeous new pop-up edition is one that children will ask for time and again. This is a beautiful board book edition of this much-loved classic that children will simply cherish."I love you right up to the moon - and back." The story of Little and Big Nutbrown Hares' efforts to express their love for each other has become a publishing phenomenon, selling more than 18 million copies worldwide. First published over 15 years ago, this lovely new edition is one that children will ask for time and again. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Rudie Nudie by Emma QuayBook Cover of Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay

Emma Quay captures all the joy and energy of childhood in this irresistible rhyming tale. With its charming illustrations and lively text. Rudie Nudie is destined to become an instant family favourite! This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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The Jewel Fish of Karnak by Graeme BaseBook Cover of The Jewel Fish of Karnak by Graeme Base

Complete with hieroglyphics, sparkling jewels and an ingenious mechanical device built into the back of the book, here is a cautionary tale set amongst the wonders of an ancient world, from the bestselling and highly acclaimed author of such classics as Animalia, The Eleventh Hour and The Legend of the Golden Snail. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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All the Way to W.A. by Roland HarveyBook Cover of All the Way to W.A. by Roland Harvey

From Kalgoorlie to the Bungle Bungles, this fifth picture book in Roland Harvey's holiday adventure series takes us across landscapes and towns and introduces us to the people of Australia's west. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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The Little Refugee by Anh DoBook Cover of The Little Refugee by Anh Do

Anh Do's inspirational story about his family's incredible escape from war-torn Vietnam and his childhood in Australia, told especially for children, with gorgeous illustrations by renowned Australian illustrator Bruce Whatley. Check out the OurBookClub review of Anh Do's biography. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Bella the Brave Fairy by Clare HenleyBook Cover of Bella the Brave Fairy by Clare Henley

Bella isn't like the other fairies - she doesn't have big, graceful wings, and can't fly. But when tragedy strikes and Bella is the only one who can help, she realises that she is far braver than she ever could have imagined. An inspirational story about overcoming your fears, and remembering what makes you special. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Mr Ego and the Bubbles of LoveBook Cover of Mr Ego and the Bubbles of Love

Read by our celebrity reviewer Susie to her 2.5 year old Alfie in June 2011

Mr Ego & The Bubble of Love - this book is aimed at pre-readers & early readers and is said to "coach children in how to tame their difficult side so that they are able to get along with each other a whole lot better."

It appealed to me as the mother of a 2 1/2 year old who believes that children are never too young to learn. However, I thought that it was a bit pedestrian and long winded. The story didn't really flow and the imagery of the 'Bubble of Love' was a bit tortuous. I felt that the language was, well, to use a word from the book itself "icky" - come on, surely with the whole English language at our disposal, there's a more descriptive word than "icky"? Finally, I'm not much into the spiritual side of things so found that a challenge.

On the positive side, I thought the illustration was engaging and Alfie (aged 2 1/2) happily sat through the whole book - even asking for it again.

If you're from West Coast US, very spiritual (in a Buddhist way) and have slightly older children, this might work for you. If you're an ordinary English mum of a young child, then this probably isn't for you.

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The Cat In The Hat Comes Back by Dr SeussBook Cover of The Cat In The Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss

Read by Tracy May 2011.

Tracy recommends as a fun read for adults and kids alike.

Okay I thought Alfie was asking me a rhetorical question about The Cat In The Hat coming back - didn't realise it was another book. Anyway, we quickly settled down to read this book where the cat comes back on a snowy day to help the children out. As you can imagine high jinks and fun ensues. I didn't think it was as good as the original Cat In The Hat book, but it was certainly fast paced, the illustrations were fun. The cat has now got 26 helpers, all named with a letter of the alphabet, so it is a good way in getting youngsters to start learning. The cat attempts to fix his mistakes, and calls on the ever increasing group of helpers, who end up making the mess so huge it becomes overpowering. I did miss the goldfish for his commonsense approach, but it was still a good read and kept us occupied for ages.

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The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Azel SchefflerBook Cover of The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Azel Scheffler

Read by Tracy May 2011.

Tracy recommends as a fun read for kids and there is plenty of additional merchandise.

The next book after The Cat In The Hat by Dr Seuss, was The Gruffalo. This is a totally different book and much more focus is on the illustrations. It is targeted towards the 3-5 year age bracket, but I didn't really think the storyline was that interesting in parts. It is about a little mouse who whilst wandering through the woods is invited into the homes of many of the scarier animals (fox, owl, snake), he escapes their invites by telling them of his friend, The Gruffalo, and they soon scarper from the scene. The mouse then stumbles across The Gruffalo, who he finds out, loves mice. So on walking back through the forrest, the Mouse introduces The Gruffalo to each of the animals he previously encountered who all appear to be afraid of the mouse (although it is the presence of the Gruffalo that scares them). The book is written in a rhyming style, but it was long and sometimes difficult to read to a younger reader and I felt lacked the fun from Dr Seuss. There are plenty of toys and other accessories tied to the book including dvd, sound book, board book, toys, colouring book - and the list goes on.

Room on the Broom Sound Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel SchefflerBook Cover of Room on the Broom Sound Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

If you are looking for something along a similar vein as The Gruffalo, why not try Room on the Broom Sound Book. Join the witch and her cat, a dog, a frog and a bird on a noisy bumpy broomstick ride. The bestseelling story from Children's Laureate, Julia Donaldson, and illustrator Axel Scheffler - now an interactive gift book with 10 amazing, magical sound effects! From the creates of The Gruffalo.

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The Cat In The Hat by Dr SeussBook Cover of The Cat In The Hat by Dr Seuss

Read by Tracy May 2011.

Tracy recommends as a fun read for adults and kids alike.

I can honestly say I have never read this book before and was requested to read it to a 2 1/2 year old thought it would be a fairly basic piece of writing. What a surprise, the prose and rhyming schemes are imaginative and there are underlying themes i.e. keep your room clean to make it fun. It is obviously a classic as it was written in the 1950's and seems to be as popular now as then. The colourful pictures were also interesting and raised lots of questions and brought extra discussion points to the book. It was also a good book to read the rythmic wording made for rapid-fire delivery.

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The Great Expedition by Peter CarnavasBook Cover of The Great Expedition by Peter Carnarvas

Picture book author/illustrator Peter Carnavas is, in my opinion, one of the great unsung heroes of children's publishing. He is without fail gentle, humorous, insightful and whimsical. Not only is he able to tackle issues with sensitivity, but he is completely capable of conjuring up emotions with the stroke of his pen, a brush of colour or just a phrase or two. The Great Expedition is a delight. A group of young explorers decides to tackle the great unknown, in the footsteps of Burke and Wills. Poorly provisioned and uncommonly brave, they face hardship and great challenges, and yet, despite all, they manage to make it across the backyard, via the sandpit and the paling fence, to their goal. This book of adventure and imagination is an absolute treasure. Ages 3 - 6. Book review by Booktopia.

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Tashi by Barbara and Anna Fienberg and illustrated by Kim GambleBook Cover of Tashi by Barbara and Anna Fienberg and illustrated by Kim Gamble

This is a large series of books about an adventurous elf called Tashi and has been suggested to be a classic in future years. Tashi encourages friendships and family which have been inspired by different cultures and mythologies. It is recommended for either boys or girls within the four to fourteen year age bracket. There is also an activity book which lets you play a Tashi board game, solve puzzles and make your own dragon, which are all great tie-ins with the books. Tashi even has a webpage.

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The Magic Tree House, Books 1-28 by Mary Pope Osborne and Salvatore MurdoccaBook Cover of The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne and Salvatore Murdocca

Recommended as a great set of adventure and magic books for kids. Whenever Jack and Annie are in their treehouse, all they need to say is "I wish we could go there" and they are instantly put into that world. This is a great collection set of books in a collectible box.

Due to the discounts offered through Fishpond, we recommend you...

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Lost and Found: Pop Up Edition by Oliver Jeffers

Book Cover of Lost and Found:  Pop Up Edition by Oliver Jeffers

There once was a boy... and one day a penguin arrives on his doorstep. The boy decides the penguin must be lost and tries to return him. This pop up edition of Jeffers’ heart-warming tale of friendship is sure to be a favourite. This Gift Edition is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Book Reviews for Tweens: Ages 6-12

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudBook Cover of Lockwood & Co:  The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Read by Tracy in December 2013

Tracy recommend

The Blurb: When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . . For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive. Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

The Reality: Although The Screaming Staircase is aimed at children 8 and upwards, I actually really enjoyed it. This is the first in a new series for Jonathan Stroud so will be a great collection to start. Set in London during a plague of ghosts, or visitors as they are named, we find out detective trio of Anthony, Lucy and George working together to eradicate them. Anthony Lockwood is the owner of the Psychic Detection Agency, who along with his best friend George employs Lucy to work for them and to help uncover the source of each haunting which will see the visitor removed before they cause death. Their only tools of the trade are iron, salt, silver and rapier swords, which add a sort of swash buckling aspect, which I am sure, will make this a possibility for a TV series. The trio find themselves working for the Combe Carey estate (owned by the very strange Mr Fairfax), which is the home of the Screaming Staircase and the even worse Red Room. They are tasked with the job of removing the visitors and will receive payment, which will clear their ever-increasing debts. However, almost unbeknownst to them, there is greater evil at work and as the sub-plots are revealed (think a very young Sherlock Holmes team) the trio is put through their paces. There is loads of action to keep even the most cynical tween entertained. There are also good character discussions as they find their place within the team. The characters are interesting and strong. I am keen to get the next book to see how they develop.

Keep up to date with Jonathan Stroud at this website. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear illustrated by John Vernon Lord

Book Cover of The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear illustrated by John Vernon Lord

The reissue of this beautiful book is a bicentennial tribute to Edward Lear. All the best known verses, such as "The Owl and the Pussy Cat", "The Jumblies" and "The Dong with the Luminous Nose", are included, but there are also less familiar but equally captivating poems as well as hundreds of pithy limericks. The result is a fantasy feast, the absurdity of which John Vernon Lord captures perfectly in his detailed and literate illustrations. Recommended by Julia Eccleshare of The Guardian as one of the best children's books for 2012 for 6+.

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People by Blexbolex

Book Cover of People by Blexbolex

There's no story apart from the one you tell yourself as you look at juxtaposed collages of different people, each with a bold, single-word caption, and think about the ways they may or may not be linked. Set on facing spreads, the pairing of simple but descriptive images makes readers think: are a painter and a graffiti tagger related by their work or completely different? Both a lumberjack and an executioner have long-handled axes, but there the similarity ends. What's the difference between a traveller and a migrant? Beautifully produced, this is a witty and thoughtful book giving multiple opportunities for reflection and story-telling as well as stimulating drawing. Recommended by Julia Eccleshare of The Guardian as one of the best children's books for 2012 for 7+.

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The World of David Walliams by David WalliamsBook Cover of The World of David Walliams by David Walliams

FOUR hilarious and moving novels from Sport Relief swim champion and bestselling, critically acclaimed author, David Walliams. THE BOY IN THE DRESS: Dennis was different. Why was he different, you ask? Well, a small clue might be in the title of this book...MR STINK: Mr Stink stank. He also stunk. And if it was correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well...BILLIONAIRE BOY: Joe has a lot of reasons to be happy. About a billion of them, in fact. He has absolutely everything he could possibly want. But there's just one thing he really needs: a friend...GANGSTA GRANNY: Ben's grandma is the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn't know about her. 1) She was once an international jewel thief. 2) All her life, she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels, and now she needs Ben's help...

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Liar & Spy by Rebecca SteadBook Cover of Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Review by Kevin Delecki at BookPage. Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that can bring about the biggest change in your life. For Georges, it’s a sign in the basement of his new apartment building that simply reads: “Spy Club Meeting—TODAY.” In Liar & Spy, the new book by Rebecca Stead, author of the Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, Georges (the “s” is silent) attends the mysterious Spy Club meeting. It is there that he meets Safer, a 12-year-old eccentric loner and self-proclaimed spy, and his younger sister Candy, who loves to eat (what else) lots and lots of candy. Georges needs a friend, since he has been uprooted from his home as a result of his father’s job loss, and his mom is spending lots of extra time at the hospital where she works. He finds that friend in Safer, who also needs someone in his life. Safer has decided, after careful observation through the front-door camera in his apartment building, that Mr. X, who lives in a top-floor unit, must be a criminal. After all, he only wears black, he leaves his apartment at strange times and he carries different types of luggage. Georges’ first assignment as a member of the Spy Club is to learn as much as he can about Mr. X. However, as Safer’s missions and demands grow increasingly dangerous (and maybe illegal), Georges must decide how far he will go for his only friend. Liar & Spy is much more than its short length suggests. It is filled with twists and turns, and will force young readers to examine what they, and those around them, “know” to be true. Georges must make hard decisions, and come to some stark realizations, about friends, families and what truth really is. Like When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy keeps readers in suspense until the very end and will be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good story. And that’s the truth! Read an interview with REbecca Stead by Eliza Borne at BookPage.

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A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah HopkinsonBook Cover of A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson

Deborah Hopkinson is the kind of writer who puts the accent on the “story” part of the word “history.” If you look back at her work for young readers, from picture books to middle grade nonfiction, you’ll find she uses this approach carefully and in a way that brings the reader right into the time and story. Even if the reader had little interest in the topic at the beginning, she or he finds this new place or time or person just as fascinating as Hopkinson does. It’s a special gift. This time, as we near the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, she tells the fictionalized tale of Charles Dickens’ childhood in A Boy Called Dickens. And what a childhood it was, downright . . . Dickensian. Told in the first person, there is a sense of mysterious immediacy that draws the reader right into the story. This book is recommended by BookPage.

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Promise the Night by Michaela MacCollBook Cover of Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

I am terrible at arts and crafts. Seriously. When my daughter needed a toga for Roman Week, I outsourced it to a tailor. (She said, “But Michaela, I’m just sewing some armholes in a sheet.” I was too mesmerized by her skill to speak.) I lived in fear of my kids’ class projects. Dioramas—I’d rather die. Posters? Pose too many challenges for me. So when my third grader told me that she had to choose a famous person for “Living Biography Day,” my antenna went up. What exactly was required? Some research. No problem. A short paper, check. Oh and I have to dress up like that person—KLANG KLANG Warning Bells. I hate costumes (don’t even ask about Halloween).

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Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat by Anna BranfordBook Cover of Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat by Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel quite likes helping. She particularly likes to help small things. So when Violet makes friends with a tiny ladybird called Small Gloria, she wants to give her a helping hand. This adorably illustrated series will appeal to all young girls. Read a fantastic review in News Online to whet your appetite about this book which is just one in a range for books by Anna Branford. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe for ages 6-12. If you enjoy Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat Anna Branford has also written Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot and Violet Mackerel's Remarkable Recovery. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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The New Kid by Mavis JukesBook Cover of The New Kid by Mavis Jukes

Review by Sharon Verbeten

It isn’t easy being nine years old or, for that matter, being the new kid at school. But that’s what Carson Blum is, and he’s bound to make the best of it. Moving from Pasadena to Northern California, Carson (along with his single dad, Nick) goes from being a big fish in a small Montessori pond to a “nobody” in a public elementary school. And what a school it is—complete with a cast of characters pulled straight out of an after-school special. First there’s his silly detective-hat-wearing teacher. Then there’s Wes Walker—the class “bother” who tells whopper lies no one ever believes. Still, there are some things that make his transition worthwhile—like Mr. Lipman’s “Star Jar,” a demolition derby, a rapidly reproducing pet rat (Mr./Mrs. Nibblenose) and Carson’s easygoing, Porsche-driving dad. And there are plenty of nice-enough kids to make his everyday life—and his birthday party—worth all the trouble. With cleverly drawn personalities—true to the fickle lives of elementary schoolers—the characters of Mavis Jukes’ The New Kid are readily relatable to young readers. And anyone who has ever been the new kid at school, or felt like the odd man out, will be entertained by Carson and the motley crew at Valley Oak School.

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Pizza Cake by Morris GleitzmanBook Cover of Pizza Cake by Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman’s latest offering is a hilarious collection of short stories. Save ten lives with a paperclip, discover how a big banana can ruin your sister's holiday, use a toilet roll to get justice, upset the neighbours with a pickaxe, eat a pizza that makes you fearless, and much more! If you enjoy Pizza Cake Morris Gleitzman hbas also written a plethora of other books including Once, Give Peas a Chance, Girl Underground, Too Small to Fail, now etc. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Liesl & Po by Lauren OliverBook Cover of Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

After Liesl’s father passes away, she is visited by a ghost, Po, an eight year old boy who lives on the other side, the territory between life and death that runs parallel to the living world, sparking the beginning of a delightful, scary and magical novel for children of all ages from bestselling author Lauren Oliver. Lauren Oliver has also written adults book - read the reviews for Before I Fall and Delirium. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Ice Island by Sherry ShahanBook Cover of Ice Island by Sherry Shahan

Review by Jennifer Bruer Kitchel

The description on the back of this book seems to tell the whole story: Two young teenagers in Alaska, setting out on a practice run with their sleds and dogs, get caught in a blizzard and face many dangers before finally making it home many days overdue. However, despite the evident predictability, this story is mesmerizing and intense, and even has a few surprises. Tatum is not as used to the weather and life in Alaska as her native friend Cole is, but she loves it nonetheless. She has dreams of one day entering the Jr. Iditarod and is pleased when Cole invites her to train with him one morning. What should have taken only a few hours turns into a five-day nightmare when a blinding snowstorm and a runaway sled dog leave them struggling to survive. Author Sherry Shahan does a wonderful job of making the reader truly feel the cold and panic as we follow Tatum through her ordeal. The dangers she encounters are real without being overly dramatized, and while there are several dire moments, it is not one-after-the-other in a thrill-fest smorgasbord. Knowing that Tatum and her friend will probably survive does not diminish the suspense or lessen the reader’s apprehension. It is a mark of good storytelling that the reader feels both the quiet solitude of vast expanses of snow and the thrilling fear that Tatum and Cole may not make it home again. This adventure will be a hit with both middle grade girls and boys.

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Wildwood by Colin MeloyBook Cover of Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Wildwood is a spellbinding tale full of wonder, danger, and magic that juxtaposes the thrill of a secret world and modern city life. With dozens of intricate and beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis, Wildwood is truly a new classic for the twenty-first century. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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The History Keepers by Damian DibbenBook Cover of The History Keepers by Damian Dibben

Jake Jones’ mum and dad have gone missing and they could be anywhere in the world – at any time in history. They belong to The History Keepers: a secret society which travels through the centuries to prevent evil enemies from meddling with History itself. In the quest to find his parents, Jake is whisked from 21st Century London to 19th century France, where he discovers the truth about his family's disappearance - and the dastardly Prince Zeldt's plan to destroy the world as we know it. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Wild: Tiger Trouble by Lucy CourtneyBook Cover of Wild:  Tiger Trouble by Lucy Courtney

Twins Tori and Taya Wild’s mother fosters all kinds of wild animals and the adorable tiger cubs, Chips and Gravy, are the most recent animals keeping them busy. But when dad falls ill and can no longer travel for work, mum's animal fostering days could be over. They need to think up a money making scheme fast and that's when they set up a new 'animals on film' business ... and soon their lives are about to get even wilder! This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Not For Parents: The Travel Book by Lonely PlanetBook Cover of Not For Parents:  The Travel Book by Lonely Planet

Cool stuff to know about every country in the world. Everyone knows which is the world’s highest mountain, but do you know which country banned chewing gum? Or what’s the world’s stinkiest fruit? Or who invented roller skates? Lonely Planet have created a book about the world’s countries for children, not parents. In this book are the epic events, hideous histories, funky foods, and crazy facts that make the world’s 200 countries so fascinating. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Troubletwisters: Troubletwisters 1 by Garth Nix and Sean WilliamsBook Cover of Troubletwisters:  Troubletwisters 1 by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

When their home mysteriously explodes around their ears, twins Jack and Jaide are sent to stay with a grandmother they have never met, in a town they have never heard of. Portland might seem boring and quiet, but it soon becomes apparent that Grandma X is more than a little eccentric, and there are very strange happenings in the town. Talking cats, swarms of cockroaches, a miniature tornado trashing their room - the twins are about to find out what it means to be a troubletwister! Nix and Williams are both huge children and teen authors, on both sides of the Pacific, and here they team up for the first time in what promises to be a terrific series for boys and girls of ages 8 to 12. There is loads of information about the book, the characters plus plenty of fun stuff at the Troubletwisters website.

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The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Boxed Set of Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney was nominated by Time magazine last year as one of the world's 100 most influential people. It is suggested that due to the humour this book would quickly become a children's classic. Obviously the public agree, in March 2011, Nielsen had three of Kinney's books in their Hottest Top 10 and he took out the top five places in the Children's Top 10.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck DUE FOR RELEASE 5 NOVEMBER 2013. Greg Heffley’s on a losing streak. His best friend, Rowley Jefferson, has ditched him, and finding new friends in middle school is proving to be a tough task. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is Greg’s life destined to be just another hard-luck story?

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book: Now everyone can have their own Wimpy Kid diary! Draw your own Wimpy-Kid-style cartoons, fill in facts and lists, check out the full-colour comics inside and even write your own Wimpy Kid journal, just like Greg. This title now comes with dozens of pages of new content and a brand new cover.

There are also movie tie-ins with this book series, so is a good way to combine several learning methods. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid was recently voted no. 38 in the 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Scholastic.

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Harry Potter Complete Audio Collection by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter Complete Audio Collection by J.K. Rowling

Looking for a great gift idea. How about the complete Harry Potter series which has been brilliantly brought to life. From Harry's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to his final battle with arch- enemy Voldemort, listen to the seven spellbinding novels in the Harry Potter series being read by Stephen Fry. Unabridged - 124 hours and 56 minutes of storytelling. In addition to the audio books, you can by the individual books, a Harry Potter boxed book set, DVDs of the individual movies (Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Gobley of Fire and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There are also different games for PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was recently voted no. 6 in the 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Scholastic.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Book Cover of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil -- what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia. For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations. This edition presents all seven books -- unabridged -- in one impressive volume. The books are presented here according to Lewis' preferred order, each chapter graced with an illustration by the original artist, Pauline Baynes. Deceptively simple and direct, The Chronicles of Narnia continue to captivate fans with adventures, characters, and truths that speak to readers of all ages, even fifty years after they were first published. the Lione, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was recently voted no. 43 in the 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Scholastic.

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The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgsen Burnett

Book Cover of The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgsen Burnett

After the death of her parents, Mary Lennox is sent back from India to live in her uncle's huge, gloomy house on the English moors. Mary is lonely and miserable until she stumbles upon her disabled cousin Colin, hidden away from the world by his troubled father. Together they discover the door to a secret garden, and open up a world of freedom and enchantment that they could have never imagined. This clothbound hardcover edition is illustrated by one of the most popular and innovative children’s illustrators; Lauren Child. This Gift Edition is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Wheel Of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon SandersonBook Cover of Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

This is the newest book in a collection of 13 science fantasy books which started to be published in 1984. The reviews are positive and highlight the series as full of action and intrigue. The latest book is Towers of Midnight which is the penultimate book in the series where the last battle has started. They would be a great way to get the tween boys off their Nintendo's or computers.

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Percy Jackson: 5 book boxed set by Rick RiordanBook Cover of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

This boxed set is getting great reviews for 10-14 year olds, and is all about adventure stories linked with ancient history and also a movie tie-in. Percy Jackson is the son of a Greek God, but wants an ordinary life being a normal kid, alas his life soon changes and a set of extraordinary adventures ensue. All five books in the blockbuster Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, in paperback, are collected in a boxed set fit for demigods. This value-priced set includes the bestselling The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympians. Fishpond is offering the boxed set at a great discount so grab it now. The Lightning Thief was recently voted no. 52 in the 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Scholastic.

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Book Cover of Conspiracy 365 The First Collection by Gabrielle Lord Book Cover of Conspiracy 365 The Second Collection by Gabrielle Lord

This series of books is written by Australian, Gabrielle Lord and has developed a real following in the young adult/tween age brackets. Callum Ordman lives in Australia, when his dad returns from a business meeting in Ireland, he could no longer speak, communicating through drawing, he dies soon after. The Doctors think he died from a disease. However when Callum is chased by a crazed man, warning him that the people that killed his father, will also kill him. Callum realises that he must solve the riddle. The crazed man, also tells Callum that he must survive the next year, or they will..... There is a book a month that aims to keep the action, intrigue and mystery going as Callum discovers more about this father and the people that killed him. There is a great interactive Conspiracy 365 website, which provides plenty of interactive information and additional information about the series, author and competitions. There is also a collection of the set of books.

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Book Reviews for Young Adults: Ages 13-17

Earthfall: The Battle Starts Here by Mark WaldenBook Cover of Earthfall:  The Battle Starts Here by Mark Walden

Read by Tracy in December 2013

Tracy recommend as a great action/adventure/sci-fi novel for the tween age bracket (or older!)

The Blurb: The battle for mankind is about to begin in this riveting story of EarthÕs invasion from the author of the H.I.V.E. series. Sam awakens to see strange vessels gathered in the skies around London. As he stares up, people stream past, walking silently toward the enormous ships, which emit a persistent noise. Only Sam seems immune to the signal. Six months later, he is absolutely alone. Or so he thinks. Because after he emerges from his underground bunker and is wounded by a flying drone, a hail of machine-gun fire ultimately reveals two very important truths: One, Sam is not, in fact, alone. And two, the drone injury should have killed himÑbut it didnÕt. With his home planet feeling alien and the future unstable and unclear, Sam must navigate a new world in this gripping adventure.

The Reality: Not my normal kind of book - sci-fi, but never say never and this one suddenly appeared at the top of my to read pile. I have not heard or read any previous work by Mark Walden, so it wasn't until I was writing the review of Earthfall did I realise he isn't new to this genre, with the very successful action series with a sci-fi twist H.I.V.E. under his belt.

Earthfall follows the story of Sam Riley who must overcome insurmountable odds in surviving. Sam finds himself alone after an alien invasion, eking out an existence where he is forced to live and hide underground in London - knew all those tunnels would come in handy! We first meet Sam as he is running for his life from the drones, but this time he isn't so lucky and finds himself trapped. Until another survivor, Rachel steps into his life and saves him. Sam is seriously injured but slowly comes to realise he is no longer alone; there are other survivors, not many, but enough to give the human race hope. Led by scientist (Dr Stirling) and an ex-sas (or Royal Marine, couldn't work it out) fighter (Jackson), the group of teenagers are armed and able to inflict some damage as they fight for their freedom. As you can expect the action is fast and hardly a minute goes by without a battle to try and cause the aliens as much damage or problems as possible. However, it is not just an aliens versus humans story. Underneath this are many sub-plots, which are gradually revealed, but the twists keep coming until the end. There were plenty of cliffhangers that run you through the gamut of emotions from triumph, disaster and tragedy, as this is just the first book in a series and would be ideal for the tween age group. All the characters have strong personalities and it will make the future series interesting as they develop and age.

My thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Book Cover of Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I really enjoyed Susan Beth Pfeffer’s previous books which are part of the Moon Crush Trilogy Life as we knew it, the dead & the gone and this world we live in. Strangely Blood Wounds arrived in the post with no comments on where it came from and finally as my book pile continues to tower over me, it has finally made it to the top. At the same time, I was saddened to find out that there will be no fourth and final book in the Moon Crush series.

The Blurb (from Goodreads): Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother. Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harboured secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.

My Review: This is not necessarily a feel good book and looks at a lot of issues for young adults from self-harm, family dynamics and secretive pasts. You soon realise that the supposed perfect family, isn’t so perfect and happy, especially when their lives change. The synopsis doesn’t really explain what the story is actually about, for some reason I thought Willa and Terri (her mum) were on the run from her estranged biological father, nicknamed Budge, but instead it focuses on so much more. Willa's blended family consists of herself, her mum Terri, and Jack, Terri's second husband. Jack's two daughters from his first marriage, Brooke and Alyssa, live with them. Jack's ex-wife, Val, is rich and gives Brooke and Alyssa anything they could want, from horses and tennis coaches to trips to Europe. Willa, by contrast, can't even have the voice lessons she wants since her mother can't pay for them. Willa feels trapped and unable to speak her mind in case she loses the love of her stepfather, after all this time she just doesn’t understand why he won’t adopt her. What Willa doesn’t know is that her biological father won’t allow it. Terri is the same, always trying to maintain the status quo and taking a backseat. Willa’s way of handling the stress of her thoughts is to secretly cut herself. "And then there was Jack with his college degree, a career he loved, two remarkable daughters, and an ex-wife rapidly rising up the corporate ladder. Mom had a high-school diploma, a brother in a cult, a violent ex-husband named Budge, and parents who died from drunk driving. For the first time in days, I felt something there than resentment and anger. I felt sorry for Mom, sorry for where she'd come from and what she didn't have." - page 118 The family are suddenly thrust into the spotlight when Willa’s biological father dramatically kills his wife and their three little girls. Willa struggles to accept that she has blood family something her mother neglected to tell her, along with a lot of other family details. Willa takes the drastic step of travelling to Pryor, Texas to attend the funerals of her “sisters”, however, he mother won’t join her and instead family friends step in to show Willa what her life could have been like, if her mother hadn’t stolen that money and escaped. When Willa returns back into the family home, she finds herself speaking her mind on her unexpected inheritance, but this only opens the floodgates and there is much soul searching by all the family.

The ending was interesting, I had initially felt that Brooke and Alyssa had everything, but they themselves felt they hadn’t – yes they had material items, but they did not have the love they desperately sought. We had up until then thought Willa had been forgotten and undervalued in the family, but instead find out that Brooke felt the same way and her recollections of childhood arguments and issues was very different to those perceived by the reader.

This world we live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Book Cover of This World we Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This world we live in is the third book in the Last Survivors trilogy (former referred to as the Moon Crush trilogy) and the follow up to Life as we knew it and the dead & the gone. This world we live in joins the Morales family (from the dead & the gone) to Miranda and her family in Pennsylvania (Life as we knew it).

It has now been a year since that fateful day where an asteroid struck the moon and pushed it into a closer to the Earth. The change in orbit has seen the planet decimated by extreme natural disasters. The Earth is now in a constant state of gloom with the sun being blocked by volcanic ashes, this has led to sub-zero temperatures, crops failing and subsequent famine and disease. Miranda and her family are still struggling to survive in rural Pennsylvania whilst Alex and his family are trying to stay afloat in New York City. Miranda is now the narrator again via her diary entries. This world we live in introduces new and more characters. The family unit suddenly increases after Matt meets and quickly marries Syl which brings increasing pressure on quickly dwindling food supplies. However, the town has access to some limited food supplies for those that are lucky to know about it and even luckier to have the strength left to collect them. Although now we are back in Miranda’s world, you realise how lucky it is to live outside of a major city, where you don’t have to pick through dead bodies to survive.

Just as the family were settling into a routine, Miranda’s father and stepmother return, with baby (Gabriel) plus Alex, Julie and Charlie who all met during a stay in a camp. They are all welcomed into the family unit, but immediately the pressure is on the house and feed them. The constant hand to mouth existence must be draining. Alex has brought with him demons from his time in New York City and is desperate to find a convent that will take Julie and protect her. Tensions continue to escalate and teenage hormones rage with some angst among Miranda and Alex. The tensions did not include animosity, which is something I would have expected in this situation – after all food was at a premium and people arriving on the doorstep with nothing would have strained resources to breaking point.

To keep the house supplied with food and everything else required the children start to raid other abandoned houses, something unheard off in the times before the asteroid. This does allow for some growth of the characters as they start to realize what is really important in their lives and houses that they had previously gone through, they now revisit and realize how much more they could have taken and used.

I did not enjoy this world we live in as much as the previous books. I would have liked to see Alex continue his narration, so we can understand his fears and perceptions. I also thought that religion started to become too much a part of the book, I did wonder if it was written by the church to encourage people to attend Mass?

The dead & the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Book Cover of the dead & the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Tracy recommends as an gritty look at a post apocalyptic world.

The dead & the gone is the sequel to Life as we knew it which is also the second book to the Moon series (with a fourth – The Shades of the Moon, recently being written). Although this is a sequel, it could easily stand as a separate book as there is no interaction between the two storylines. The dead & the gone covers the same events that have happened in the first book, but this time from the point of the Puerto Rican Morales family who live in Manhattan.

Immediately this book is darker and more dramatic – both parents disappear on the first day, so the siblings (17 year old Alex is the second eldest brother (his older brother Carlos, is away with the Marines) and his younger sisters; 14 year old Brianne and 12 year old Julie) must fend for themselves. When the Morales siblings awaken the morning after the asteroid strikes, they haven’t the financial security of neither Miranda’s family, nor the foresight to prepare, so only have what is in their cupboards and what their uncle has given them from his bodega. At their school they are entitled for a free lunch and this soon becomes their main source of nutrition. Other sources of food come from standing in food ration lines which become the target of riots and atrocity and also to scrounge through vacated apartments for anything they can salvage. This additional layer of emotional insecurity predicates the concerns of predictability. The dead & the gone is not just about what happens, but how the Morales family will get through each new disaster they fact. Coupled with the difference in locations, there is a whole new unique set of sub-plots. One of the main storylines, missing from the first book, is a very strong mainstream religious theme compared to the cult that Megan falls victim to. I have to say, not being particularly religious, that in the dead & the gone the church seems to come to the assistance of the Morales family, but I would be extremely doubtful this would be the case in reality, can’t really imagine the church these days protecting anything other than assets. The second sub-plot is class differences. The Morales siblings have scholarships to private Catholic schools where they have had to scrape together money just for uniforms, unlike the majority of other school children whose parents are wealthy and they are also subsequently cushioned from the need to hunt for food and worry about the future as they are mainly secure in accessing special new towns for the wealthy and influential.

The dead & the gone is not written in diary format, this time we are in Alex’s head, so we don’t know much of his feelings, and instead of emotions we are caught up in events, thoughts and perspectives. Living in a large city, has its benefits, there is access to facilities longer, however, it also has its downsides, there is more to lose and you can easily become forgotten. Unlike Life as we knew it where the story was about one family, in the dead and the gone the story covers much more than the Morales family, we delve into the lives of school friends, community and extended family. Alex must do anything to keep his sister alive and initially New York does manage to provide some basic supplies, but all too soon bodies start to pile up and a black market develops which sees Alex introduced to “body fishing” whereby he strips the dead of anything tradable for food.

Keep up to date with upcoming book releases through Susan Beth Pfeffer’s website.

Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Book Cover of Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Tracy recommends as an interesting look at survival which is suitable for younger teens and will certainly provide plenty of debate and thought.

After reading The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, a reader suggested Pfeffer’s books. So I purchased the trilogy.

Miranda, her younger brother Jonny and Horton the cat live with their mother in Pennsylvania. Their elder brother Matt is away at college. Their father lives with his new wife Lisa and they are about to be parents. Miranda is the narrator of the story which unfolds via journal entries. Miranda is like any teenager (the book states 16, but seems to be emotionally younger), worried about how much homework she has, how her best friends are fighting, how her mother won’t let her start ice skating again. However, what is on everyone’s mind is the imminent crash of an asteroid into the moon. The crash is predicted at night and the street is out in force having a party and watching with excitement and morbid fascination. Unfortunately predictions are wrong and although initially there is no damage, the moon’s orbit is changed and immediately followed by tsunamis, earthquakes and panic. Miranda’s journal documents the unfolding plight of the family as they fight to survive.

Miranda’s mother has the foresight to understand that people will start panic buying immediately, so she withdraws her available funds, gathers the family and heads to the local shopping centre. The children, and their mother’s friends Mrs Nesbitt, are under instructions to buy anything and everything they can possibly manage. It is fascinating how quickly their lives changed. The first things to disappear are electricity and communication, becoming increasingly sporadic. It is also funny to see how the family reacts when the electricity comes on – first on the list is using the washing machine, clothes drier and vacuum cleaner! Before long volcanoes and their subsequent ash ensure agricultural disruption with crops dying and the subsequent culling of livestock, this coupled with collapsing infrastructure sees the family having to become self-sufficient. Chopping wood for heat and cooking, attempting to reduce their food intake to preserve their supplies and capturing any snow and/or rain for drinking water.

During this time, people do try to keep a semblance of normality where possible. The local library tries to stay open, but as usual when cities disintegrate into mayhem, looting and antisocial behaviour increase. It soon becomes unsafe for Miranda to go anywhere by herself, although there aren’t many places to go, considering fuel has become exorbitantly priced. The family are increasingly isolated and when Miranda does go to visit her best friends Sammi and Megan they find themselves no longer the same. Eventually Sammi leaves town with a 40 year old man so that her parents don’t have to feed her and Megan has fallen under the spell of a Svengali minister and is starving herself supposedly to cleanse herself of her sins.

Each time the family are on the brink of collapse, something turns up and they are able to go on for a few more days, eking out an existence. The book is bleak (although not as bleak as The Road by Cormac McCarthy which rates as the bleakest book/movie I have ever seen), but there is little hope portrayed, they are going through the motions, but I think this is what makes the book a bit more realistic than a lot of other post-apocalyptic.

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The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Book Cover of The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

Read by Tracy in February, March and April 2012.

Tracy recommends for the 11-14 age group who are looking for a book filled with adventure. The first book has also been turned into a blockbuster movie.

Did you see The Hunger Games movie - this was one of the highest grossing films of all time and earnt $155 million in the opening weekend (behind Harry Potter and the Death Hallows: Part 2 and The Dark Knight). This bodes well for the remaining two books of this series which have been turned into three movies. The final instalment of Mockingjay, Part 2 will be released 20 November 2015. Read our reviews of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

This trilogy which includes The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay) was a huge success even before the movie, so I decided to read them to see what the fuss is about. When the first book was released in September 2008, Suzanne Collins said that the idea for The Hunger Games came from channel surfing television, I would also suggest it came from a mixture of past movies (Mad Max) and others of that genre and era. I know I am no longer a young adult, which this book is targeted towards, but I love a good story. What is starting to irk me slightly and be prepared for a small rant is the suitability of books for age groups - these books contain murder, death, poverty, love etc and I don't think it is particularly suitable for younger readers, but maybe I am not keeping up with changes in age groups. Anyway, rant over and back to the books.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Book Cover of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay is the final instalment in The Hunger Games trilogy, with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire being recently reviewed. I must admit I was eagerly anticipating this book, after being slightly disappointed in receiving a misprinted copy from The Book Depository who, once I notified them, quickly despatched a new copy. Although this series is targetted at a younger audience, it has certainly kept me entertained and I must even admit to crying at the end of Mockingjay.

The Capitol and President Snow still controls the 12 districts but the rebellion is now in full swing. Katniss Everdeen is seen as the leader of the rebel alliance (feels very Star Wars doesn't it), but all is not well and Katniss is being used by both sides to press their own advantages. On a personal level, the Capitol who captured several of Katniss's circle, are using Peeta against her in televised interviews ensuring that she is constantly in a state of confusion at his comments and her inability to do anything other than to try and ensure when he does return to District 13 he is not executed for treason. As Katniss struggles with her place in the rebellion, she also becomes embroiled in a subplot featuring President Coin and President Snow. Eventually Peeta is recaptured from the Capitol but it is not the ending you want, when we find Peeta has been tortured and his memories have been altered with tracker jacker venom, so that any mention or sight of Katniss drives him to uncontrollable rage where his only desire is to kill her. After a lot of political wrangling Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Finnick and a variety of other previous victors head into the Capitol to which initially was to be filmed for propaganda movies. Even though it means entering another arena for the victors, this time Katniss starts to understand the power she can wield and that she has been a puppet for those seeking political power. Luckily Katniss does heed some advice and stands up for all those she has lost along the way. After finding themselves in a trap that sees several of their allies killed, Katniss decides to lead the remainder to kill President Snow. Eventually she can't take the deceipt and confesses, only for everyone to also confess that they knew her plans and were with her the whole way. This could have been a very melodramatic moment, but you feel it is a galvanising time and they use the knowledge they have gained and with the help of a halo, head towards the centre of the Capitol. Unfortunately when they finally reach the Presidential mansion there is plenty of double crossing and and you are left wondering what did Katniss fight for from the beginning. Again things are a whirlwind of action and Katniss struggles to comprehend the outcomes of the war, taking it upon herself to try and finish the fight and finally realise that everything is not as it seems. Even at the end, Katniss cannot decide between Peeta and Gale, so unlike other recently young adult books, neither of the male lead characters have the upper hand and any overly romantic notions you get are certainly not going to come true. Even Gale laments that Katniss will choose "whoever she can't survive without", nothing to do with love and happiness. By now a lot of trilogies have outstayed their welcome (lets not mention The Matrix), but Mockingjay still introduces plenty of twists and turns to keep you wanting even more. Mockingjay has a dark plotline and contains a mind-blowing array of gadgets, for good and bad, whilst still providing an outlet for a satirical account of our celebrity culture - the introduction of Tigriss was hilarious. The ending was interesting and sad, yes it did tie up some of the earlier storylines, but I certainly felt there is plenty of questions that could see another book or even another trilogy!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Book Cover of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is the sequel to The Hunger Games which I enjoyed and was released in 2009, seems Suzanne Collins is one of the new breed of authors that can produce a book each year, although this is different and actually seems to grow the characters. I am usually disappointed with some series (ignore the Dragon Tattoo series which was phenomenal) as they just seem to spurt the same old same old with the authors not changing the characters in line with their changing audiences (Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer are two examples), you get the feeling they just publish a book to top up their bank accounts. In Catching Fire Katniss and Peeta have returned to District 12 and moved into a new home and now do not have to worry about food or money. However, there is a shadow hanging over Katniss as President Snow believes that her act of defiance at the end of the Hunger Games may spark a rebellion. So instead of returning to her home to live a quiet life, she must constantly be on guard and aware that every word and move she makes is being watched and reported on. Collins has moved on in these books and Katniss has grown up and starts to realise that the world outside of District 12 is very different. She has a hatred of the people in the Capitol who gorge themselves on everything, whereas all the other Districts must struggle to survive on what is left. Increasingly the Capitol attempts to control the rebellion and when Peeta and Katniss visit District 11, who helped them during the first Games, they realise just how brutal the Peacemakers are becoming. Collins also does not shy away from her Youth audience and as in the real world, bad things happen to good people and sometimes you just need to be quiet and not cause any ripples or draw attention to yourself. As rebellion grows, President Snow agrees to make an example of Katniss and a Quarter Quell is announced that will draw its pool of tribunes from the existing winners. This means that Katniss must enter the arena again and be faced with the prospect of killing either Peeta or Haymitch. It is agreed with Katniss and Peeta will return to the arena and again Katniss and Peeta must show a united front and attempt to convince the residents of Capitol they are a loving couple. It is amongst this angst that Katniss tries to work out a relationship with Gale and Peeta, I liken it to the adult relationship struggle that Carrie had between Big and Aidan in Sex and the City. She has always loved Gale, but you wonder if it is circumstance based, whereas Peeta has always loved her. Again Katniss wears her Mockingbird pin, which has turned out to be a symbol of the resistance. Catching Fire does not focus so much on the games, instead it delves into the political climate and individual actions. It was also refreshing that Katniss manages to keep her strong relationship with Cinna, Effie and their teams. Of course there is the added diversion of a marriage and possible pregnancy to ensure that the games are watched by everyone.

Yes there are plot flaws, some of the characters are very superficial and you can already guess the ending, but even I found the books to be fairly addictive. I was hoping that Peeta would manage to overcome Katniss's desire for Gale and she realises that he is the one. There is still plenty of action, but this time the tribunes know that inside the arean nothing is what it seems and we see the dealings done behind the scenes to garner allies and sponsors. I actually can't wait to start the third book now.

This is a fantastic choice for your book club. If you want some further information and book club discussion questions - check out the OurBookClub Book Club page.

As the first movie was so successfuly the remainder of the series is also being "movieized" with the same cast.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Book Cover of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem. Panem is controlled by the dark and tyrannical Capitol where its residents are rich and frivolous, compared to the surrounding twelve poorer districts which specialise in one skill i.e. District 12 supplies coal and District 11 is the agricultural zone. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol, every year one boy and one girl (known as the Tributes) between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are picked through a process called The Reaping and then forced to participate in The Hunger Games. Which is a televised event where the Tributes must fight to the death in a large outdoor arena - the sole survivor becomes rich and famous.

We meet the main character Katniss Everdeen as she is illegally hunting outside of her districts boundaries to ensure that her family do not starve, at this she is abetted by Gabe who she has grown attached too since their fathers were killed in a mining accident. The Tributes for this year from District 12 are Primrose Everdeen, who is swiftly replaced by her sister in a moment of sisterly love and a realisation by Katniss that her sister Prim will never surive the games. The male tribute is Peeta Mellark, the third son of a baker who has for years loved Katniss from afar. As the story progresses and they journey towards the Capitol to be made ready for The Hunger Games, Katniss is acutely aware that Peeta saved her life many years ago and realises to survive she must outlive him in the event. The run-up to the start of the games is made up of interviews and training to ensure that each tribute is able to secure sponsors that can assist them during the games. This cleverly allows certain items to be dropped into the arena which adds another dimension into the game-play. Katniss and Peeta are coached by the only previous winner from District 12, Haymitch Abernathy, who appears to be a drunk. However, he does manage to sober up enough to give both Katniss and Peeta some very prophetic advice. Soon they are thrown into the arena and must survive and avoid being killed. As the story progresses we see how much Katniss and Peeta must endure to survive and the alliances that seem strange and abhorrent at first start to make sense. Eventually an announcement is made that the rules have changed and instead of a solo winner, if both parties from the same District survive they will crowned joint winners. Although this does appear to lighten the load somewhat, Katniss is acutely aware that she must play her part in the game to get gifts from the sponsors that include food and some badly needed medical aid. As with any game of strategy alliances are made and then broken and you see some of people's real characters unfold. The ending of The Hunger Games takes a twist and you can see the opening for the sequels.

I felt that at the root of the book was the story of survival and even though you are not always part of a crowd you can still cross the boundary fence and make lasting relationships and it shouldn't matter what gadgetry you have instead it is based on your skills. Which is not a bad message in this day where everyone appears to be only interested in spending as much as possible on consumables. And as the quote on the front page of the book states "I couldn't stop reading it", I too was like Stephen King and didn't put it down, devouring it during the night.

The movie cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

Click here to read more about Suzanne Collins, the books etc and follow more updates at the website.

This is a fantastic choice for your book club. If you want some further information and book club discussion questions - check out the OurBookClub Book Club page.

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You Against Me by Jenny DownhamBook cover of You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Read by Natalie January 2011.

Natalie recommends this as wow, what can I say - I loved this book, I devoured this book and when I finished this book, I started flicking back through it, wanting to read it all over again.

Karyn is 15 and has accused Tom, who is 18, of raping her. Her older brother Mikey can only think of revenge and protecting his little sister. Tom denies it, says Karyn threw herself at him and although she was drunk, she wanted it. Ellie, Tom’s sister chooses to believe him. He’s her older brother, he’s always protected her and she should defend him. Everyone assumes Tom is innocent, that Karyn has made it all up after waking up with regret. After all, Karyn’s family is poor and lives in a run-down council housing estate, while Tom’s family is rich and living in a gated community in the exclusive part of town. On top of this Karyn made no secret of the fact she liked Tom, she willingly went home with him that night and the next day she took over 24hrs to report it to the police. Is she setting Tom up? Only Ellie was home that night, but she says she slept through the whole thing and the next day Karyn seemed fine.

But as Mikey sets out to gather information in a bid to ruin Tom’s case, Ellie also sets out to learn more about Karyn. When Mikey and Ellie meet, everything they thought they knew seems to change. They are opposite and different and are desperate to protect their sibling, but behind both families’ doors there are other secrets and problems - alcoholism, denial, anger, sadness and even neglect. What Mikey and Ellie find in each other is an escape, an understanding and an attraction that neither of them expected. As the trial looms, stories and feelings about that night begin to change and pressure mounts for the truth to come out, even if it means one family is going to be saved and one family is going to be destroyed.

As the reader you are constantly wondering about the night in question. What really happened, who is telling the truth and what will be the final outcome? Reading it, I found myself changing sides and opinions often. Although the rape and subsequent trial are a part of it, the bigger story here is about the siblings – Mikey and Ellie. It is about how they cope with what’s happening around them, how they desperately try to protect their brother and sister, whilst fighting to stay afloat themselves. It’s about family and loyalty and the choices this forces you to make. Is hiding the truth the right thing to do if it protects your family? It’s about actions, decisions and the consequences. But, more than anything it’s a story about love, the love you have for your family, but also the love you can find for another, a love that can come from the strangest of places. This Jenny Downham’s second book, and despite depicting younger characters, it is probably not geared for the younger, teen reader. And while some may feel the ending is incomplete, I didn’t think so. The ending was perfect because it was Mikey and Ellie’s story. This was about their relationship which began, changed, grew, was realistic and was beautifully written. Fantastic book, fantastic title – I loved it. Jenny Downham has won the Teen book category in the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for You Against me.

The Vanishing Moment by Margaret WildBook Cover of The Vanishing Moment by Margaret Wild

If you could live a different version of your life, would you take the chance? From the award-winning author Margaret Wild, this spellbinding story places two young women at the turning point in their lives, and each must choose to accept the life she has, or to leap into one she might yet live. A brilliant and bittersweet story of loss and courage, with a surprising twist which is sure to initiate intense class room discussion and thought provoking activities. Ages 13+

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Amina: Through My Eyes by J.L. PowersBook Cover of Amina:  Through My Eyes by J.L. Powers

The year is 2011, and Somalia's civil war has been raging for two decades. Amina's world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her artist father and rebel forces kidnap her brother. Can Amina use her own street art to provide a voice for others like herself? Ages 11-14

ABOUT THE SERIES: This is the second book to appear in the Through My Eyes series. The first, Shahana by Rosanne Hawke, was embraced by Australian teachers as an important new resource for students to better understand the experiences of children living in the midst of conflict. Each book in the series has strong links to the National Curriculum, will sustain intense classroom discussion and bookwork, and will help young students comprehend broader issues relating to international conflict and war in the media. A portion of the proceeds (up to $5000) from sales of this series will be donated to UNICEF.

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Every Breath by Ellie MarneyBook Cover of Every breath by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts moves to Melbourne from the country where she meets James Mycroft, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who's also a genius with a passion for forensics. Armed with little more than their wits and a computer, this modern day Holmes and Watson embark on a search for the ruthless killer of an inner city homeless man, a journey which will lead them into the lion's den, quite literally. This book has all the elements to keep your students reading right to the end - it's a nail-biting whodunnit and a sizzling romance rolled into one. Ages 13-18

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Three Times Lucky by Sheila TurnageBook Cover of Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

What do you get when you combine Because of Winn-Dixie’s heart with the mystery and action of Holes? You get an engaging, spirit-lifting and unforgettable debut for young readers. Turnage introduces readers to the homey yet exotic world of Tupelo Landing, N.C., well-populated with one-of-a-kind characters. A stranger with justice on his mind has just arrived in town, and Hurricane Amy is on its way. Rising sixth-grader Mo LoBeau leads the cast through a series of clues as the whole town tries to figure out who among them might be a murderer. The novel’s opening lines reveal the unflappable Mo LoBeau as a latter-day Philip Marlowe: “Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt.” This is the first of many genius turns of phrases. Pairing the heartbreaking sadness of children who don’t get their fair share from parents with the hilarity of small-town life, Turnage achieves a wickedly awesome tale of an 11-year-old girl with more spirit and gumption than folks twice her age. Mo LoBeau is destined to become a standout character in children’s fiction. Readers may find they never want to leave Tupelo Landing. This review was posted on Kirkus Reviews and is for Age Range 10-14.

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The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper FfordeBook Cover of The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

At OurBookClub we love Jasper Fforde (Lost in a Good Book, The Eyre Affair and Shades of Grey) and he is now branching out into Young Adult books - although I am sure they will be great for the Older Adult as well. The Last Dragonslayer: In the good old days, magic was indispensable --- but now it’s fading. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians. It’s hard to stay in business, though, when magic is drying up. If the visions predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer are true, everything will change for Kazam --- and for Jennifer.

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Origin by Jessica KhouryBook Cover of Origin by Jessica Khoury

An electrifying action-romance that's as thoughtful as it is tragic Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life. Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever. "Origin" is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of "Matched" with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of "Lost". This one’s big—it’s the first title on the 2012 Penguin Teen Breathless Reads.

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Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine ApplegateBook Cover of Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

This is a stunning new mystery-thriller from the bestselling writers of "Animorphs" and "GONE". It is an exceptional page-turner. Escapism just doesn't get more thrilling than this. 16-year-old Eve Spiker lives an easy life with her geneticist mother, Terra. That is, until she's involved in a freak accident and left with life-threatening injuries. Injuries that seem to be healing faster than physically possible. Recuperating at her mum's lab, Eve meets Solo, a hot teenage lab assistant who seems to know more about what's going on at Spiker Biotech than he should do. Joining forces to investigate, Solo and Eve uncover a secret so huge it could change the world completely. Because Terra's research is about more than just saving human lives. It's about creating them...

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The Lost Girl by Sangu MandannaBook Cover of The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

This debut novel stars Eva, an “echo” designed to replace a real girl, Amarra, if she ever died. Eva must do everything Amarra does, eat what she eats, learns what she learns. When Amarra dies, Eva must choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. "The Lost Girl was the most honest portrait of grief and loss that I've read in a long time. Filled with heartache, love, and things that would stir Mary Shelley's ghost, this is a story not to be missed."--Lauren DeStefano, New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy

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Beta by Rachel CohnBook Cover of Beta by Rachel Cohn

Elysia is a clone, created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen year old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of teenaged clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to be created. Elysia's purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air there induces a strange, euphoric high that only the island's workers--soulless clones like Elysia--are immune to. At first, Elysia's new life on this island paradise is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, the most privileged people in the world who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? And, she comes to realize that beneath its flawless exterior, there is an undercurrent of discontent amongst Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care--so why are overpowering sensations clouding Elysia's mind? If anyone discovers that Elysia isn't the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When Elysia's one chance at happiness is ripped away from her with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she's always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive. The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, "Beta" is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a corrupted world.

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My Life in Black & White by Natasha FriendBook Cover of My Life in Black & White by Natasha Friend

Review by Deborah Hopkinson.

exi and Taylor have been best friends since kindergarten, and even if Taylor is rich and has the best clothes and haircut, Lexi knows she has something even more desirable: a beautiful face. During their fifteenth summer, Lexi’s life is changed forever when she goes through the windshield of a car driven by Taylor’s brother. Lexi’s shattered world and ruined features are bad enough, but even worse is her memory of what happened just before the accident, when Taylor betrayed their friendship and Lexi’s trust. Lexi wishes she could break every mirror in the world. Without her best friend for support, she is lost. When high school starts in the fall, Lexi refuses to leave her room and can’t talk to her parents—especially her mother, who is disappointed that Lexi will never be a beauty queen. Lexi gets no sympathy from her older sister, Ruthie, who has never been popular or pretty. Instead, Ruthie challenges her little sister: “If you hate your life so much, stop wallowing and change it. Change yourself. No one’s going to do it for you.” Slowly, with help from Ruthie and a boy named Theo, who has also had to cope with a terrible loss, Lexi does just that. Instead of beauty pageants, she takes up a hobby she could never have imagined. At a time when popularity and self-worth are closely tied to appearances, Lexi is forced to see the world—and herself—with new eyes. My Life in Black and White is a satisfying journey of discovery. And, thanks to Natasha Friend’s wonderful prose, it’s a journey that readers will be glad to take with her.

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Dusty Girl by Sarah ZettelBook Cover of Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

In Dust Girl, Sarah Zettel has masterfully combined magic and history into a mysterious novel set during the Dust Bowl-plagued 1930s. Callie LeRoux makes the ideal heroine for this clever mash-up: She's part fairy, biracial and sick from the dust that inundates her Kansas town. Not to mention, her love interest is a Jewish hobo and her mother vanished in a dust storm. Zettel’s novel, woven with classic jazz and blues music, is a wholly original take on fairy mythology. She combines the spirit of the Depression-era Midwest with the magical conflicts between the Seelie and Unseelie courts of fairies. The result is a novel that can be experienced through all of the senses: Taste the dust; hear the music; feel the gritty wind; smell the sweat; and see the Dust Bowl through Callie’s eyes. Dust Girl is a combination of historical fiction and fantasy literature. How did you come up with this particular combination? Well, partly it was because I'd never seen it done. I've always been fascinated by U.S. history and folklore, and love stories that make use of it. I grew up reading all the Wizard of Oz books, so those were always a part of my personal mental landscape. At the same time, I discovered stories about Paul Bunyan and other work heroes and tall tales. Plus, when I was a kid, I came across a set of stories by Manly Wade Wellman about a man named John who had a guitar with silver strings [and] a set of magic powers, and who walked through Appalachia having adventures and confronting ghosts and monsters. Those stories knocked me back on my heels and remain some of my favorites. So all of this was very much in the back of my mind what I was thinking of when I started considering my own ideas for a new fantasy series.

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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi Book Cover of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Review by Kimberly Giarratano

Seventeen-year-old Aria is a Dweller, a girl of privilege who lives in a sheltered city with no disease, conflict or threat of starvation. She spends most of her time in Realms, multidimensional virtual environments that surpass the imagination, whose motto is “Better than real.” Aria explains, “If you go to a party, you feel the people dancing around you, and you can smell them and hear the music. And you can change things, like choose more comfortable shoes to dance in. You can do anything you want.” Thus, Aria has never needed to rely on (or even develop) survival skills until she’s banished and thrown out into the wild. Eighteen-year-old Perry is an Outsider. He is a hunter and second in line to lead his tribe, but he too is unwanted by his people. When Perry’s young nephew is kidnapped by the same people who betray Aria, the two become allies and embark on a treacherous journey in search of answers. As they fight off cannibals and dodge deadly electrical storms, they begin a desperate romance. But the answers they seek lead to larger questions, particularly involving Aria’s mother, that thrust them apart. The first in a trilogy, Under the Never Sky is a captivating and atmospheric read. Debut author Veronica Rossi has created compelling, multifaceted characters—from Aria’s ambitious mother to Perry’s audacious best friend to the heart-wrenching Cinder, an orphan who holds more power in his body than the swirling skies above them—whose relationships to each other are complex and dynamic.

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Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas KlaussBook Cover of Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

Review by Heather Seggel

When 15-year-old Phillip hurts his foot on a cross-country run, he hides to avoid sadistic Coach Farragut, aka “Ferret,” and meets the most amazing girl. Rebekah seems to like him back, and so he ends up at her church youth group, an activity he hides from his atheist dad. Not that Dad would notice, having finally decided to clean out a basement full of emergency supplies laid in by Phillip's mother, who has since died. The entire family has raised not talking about that to an art form. Lucas Klauss titled his first novel Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse; the way things pile up on Phillip, it seems like it might come at any time. As Phillip gets more involved in Rebekah's church, his relationships with everyone around him change. His best friends are beginning to branch out, one into new friendships with a couple of Grade-A jerks. The other is into girls . . . possibly including Rebekah. Things get ugly. Punches are thrown. And some things are damaged that can never be repaired. Phillip is a likable guy, smart and funny, and it's easy to root for him to do the right thing. Much harder is figuring out exactly what that is. Does he really believe the things in the pamphlets he's been handing out, which would alienate almost everyone in his life? Is he truly seeking God, or just trying to win over a hot girl? And what does she think about all this? Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse is wise about the misunderstandings we hang onto and the ways we fail to understand one another in both friendship and love.

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The Maze Runner by James DashnerBook Cover of The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade, a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there-or what's happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything-even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrol its corridors-to try and find out. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Have You Seen Ally Queen by Deb FitzpatrickBook Cover of Have You Seen Ally Queen by Deb Fitzpatrick

Ally Queen, is fifteen, flat-chested and totally trapped in a tiny coastal town where the killer pythons are stale and there are only three types of people: bogans, surfies and spinach-munching hippies. How could her parents have ever thought moving to Melros was a good idea? This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini TaylorBook Cover of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book unbounded by genre but located at a magical crossroads where The Passage meets Philip Pullman and Twilight meets Pan's Labyrinth. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Shelter by Harlan CobenBook Cover of Shelter by Harlan Coben

Myron Bolitar discovers that his mysterious tearaway younger brother, Brad, has a son - now teenaged. When our series hero's father, Brad, dies in a mysterious accident in South America, Myron is his closest, albeit estranged, relative left and is assigned to be his legal guardian. Will uncle and nephew be able to live with one another? And will our hero be able to resist getting involved in solving a mysterious disappearance at his new high school? This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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The Sending: The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle CarmodyBook Cover of The Sending:  The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

The time has come at last for Elspeth Gordie to leave the Land on her quest to find and stop the computermachine Sentinel from unleashing the deadly Balance of Terror arsenal. But before she can embark on her journey, she must find a lost key. And although she has long prepared for this day, nothing is as she anticipated. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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Assault: Recon Team Angel by Brian FalknerBook Cover of Assault:  Recon Team Angel by Brian Falkner

It is 2030, and the world is at war with an alien race. The Bzadians. The battleground: Earth. Recon Team Angel, made up of teenagers from around the world, has been training for years. They have learned Bzadian languages. Learned how to operate their weapons. How to work, eat, and think like them. Now it is time to act. Recon Team Angel must slip behind enemy lines, work their way into the top-secret alien facility under Uluru, and uncover the truth. But what they discover will shock not just them, but all of humanity. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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The Coming of the Whirlpool: Ship Kings by Andrew McGahanBook Cover of The Coming of the Whirlpool:  Ship Kings by Andrew McGahan

Young Dow Amber is no sailor. But driven by a strange sea-longing he ventures down to the great grim bay known as the Claw. He hopes to learn there of seafaring, but he finds only a fearful people who scarcely dare sail at all, for they have been cursed by a monstrous whirlpool that haunts the bay, stealing away their sons. The Coming of the Whirlpool is the first volume in a stunning series from Miles Franklin Award winner Andrew McGahan. This book is recommended by Bookcaffe.

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I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (aka James Frey & Jobie Hughs) Book Cover of I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Read by Natalie February 2011.

Natalie recommends this as a good book for teens, although the movie looks pretty good for adults!

I had heard good things about this book and when I saw the movie preview for the Hollywood blockbuster it had been turned into, I was excited to read it. Unfortunately I was pretty disappointed in the end. The book is about 9 infant aliens and their Cepean (guardians) who protect and mentor them. They have escaped from their home planet of Lorien after it was destroyed by the Mogadorians and are now hiding out on Earth. The 9 are a sacred group, designed to be fighters who will develop special powers as they grow and allow them to one day rebuild their home planet. Upon leaving Lorian they were charmed such that they can only be killed in order, but to keep this charm they must remain apart from each other, staying only with their own guardian. As one of them is caught and killed by the Mogadorians who have also travelled to Earth, a circular scar forms on the remaining alien’s ankle to let them know who is next. One was killed in Malaysia, Two was killed in England, Three in Kenya and now Four is next. Moving to Paradise Ohio, Four takes on the persona of John Smith and his cepean becomes Henri, his father. Trying to fit in at high school, yet also remain invisible for fear of being found, he has lived a life constantly on the run with an ever changing identity. However in Paradise, he finally makes a friend in Sam and for the first time falls in love with Sarah. Now Four feels like he has something to fight for, something to stop him from running. However as the Mogadorians once again track him down life for him and those around him becomes increasingly dangerous as it is now his turn to die. When an unexpected ally turns up to help him, the Lorian decide the time has come to stop the Mogadorians, who have set their sights on destroying Earth along with the remaining Lorian people. The biggest problem I had with this book was the age of the characters. At 15, I just didn’t buy the level of maturity he and even the humans were able to display, nor the usual teen romance that becomes true everlasting love. I think as an adult novel, it could have been awesome. Anyway, the book had a lot of potential and it is clear there is a sequel on the way, with The Power of Six released September 2011. In fact, rumour has it there are 6 more instalments to come and this is likely a move to capitalise on the gaping hole left by the end of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas. The “author”, Pittacus Lore claims himself to be a Lorian elder entrusted to tell their story….! The movie on the other hand, looks pretty awesome based on the preview and certainly has two things going for it, the special effects and the increased age of the characters – smart move!

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John Marsden: Tomorrow Series.

Book Cover of Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden Book Cover of The Dead of the Night by John Marsden Book Cover of Third Day, the Frost by John Marsden Book Cover of Darkness be my Friend by John Marsden Book Cover of Burning for Revenge by John Marsden

John Marsden has created a great series for the young adult and older tween group. The first book - Tomorrow, When the War Began has been made into a movie and we look forward to the remainder of the series following in its footsteps.

Tomorrow When the War Began is the first book in the series and is about Elle and her friends hiding. They're shocked, they're frightened, they're alone. Their world has changed, with the speed of a slamming door. They've got no weapons - except courage. They've got no help - except themselves. They've got nothing - except friendship. How strong can you be, when the world is full of people trying to kill you?

The Dead of the Night is where Hell is still the safest place on earth. When you've run out of choices, you've only got yourself. As war rages, as the enemy closes in, as Ellie and her friends fight for their lives, they are left with nothing. Nothing but courage, spirit and pride.

The Third Day, the Frost encourages you to live what you believe in...die fighting for it. The third day comes a frost...a killing frost. The enemy spreads across the land, cold and relentless. They invade. They destroy. They kill. Only the heroism of Ellie and her friends can stop them. When hot courage meets icy death, who will win through?

Darkness, be my Friend where there is nowhere to run; one place left to hide. You're running from bullets through the streets of your own town. Your life's on the line and no one's there to help. What's happened? When did safety turn to fear, peace turn to war, happiness turn to panic? When did your normal day become a nightmare? Ellie and her friends struggle with the biggest questions life can offer.

Burning for Revenue sees the world is in flames...You look behind - there's nothing but smoke. Ahead of you the future has just burst into flames. Your life is on fire. The world's an inferno. You're burning...with passion and fear, with love and rage.

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Pigboy by JC BurkeBook Cover of Pigboy by JC Burke

Pigboy is a story that explores the way a person can be judged and how that judgement can be so wrong. An unlikable person doesn't mean they are evil - it may just mean that they find it to difficult to navigate their way around life and relationships. That idea is what started my thinking and led to the writing of Pigboy. So it's this notion that I'd like the reader to be left with. It is a first person narrative told by Damon Styles, a young man who doesn't sit comfortably in his skin or the world. Damon has been victimised and intimidated, yet also likes to do that to others. He is an outsider in a small rural community and after an incident at year 10 school camp, Damon is further ostracized and the eyes of the town are upon him. In yr 12, on Damon's 18th birthday, he is expelled from school and it's what happens after this that causes Damon's life to take a sudden turn. Damon wants to learn how to handle and shoot a rifle so he takes a job with Miro, the Pigman, a pig shooter and a Bosnian-Serb who also lives on the fringes of this community. But Miro starts to see that things don't add up with the highly sensitive Damon who loves animals and is scared to hold a rifle.

Book review by Booktopia.

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Book Information

The 100 Best Children's Books

There is a new ranking of the greatest children's books of all time - do you think it's going to be all about Harry Potter or Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Never fear, some of the classics have made it through as well, usurping the newcomings. The list is compiled by Parent & Child Magazine, based on books nominated by literacy experts and mums. Check out the details here. If you want some independent book reviews, don't forget to look at our Little People page.

Scholastic Australia has a fantastic website. Click the sections that interest you for schools, kids and retail. There are articles of interest, activities, games, competitions, teacher resources and more. See what's in Book Club issues or find out how to host your own Book Fair. Learn about your favourite authors and illustrators, see the latest new-release titles and download product information sheets about new software titles. It also has a great section of teachers notes that can be downloaded by parents for some additional reading and book note tips.

The Children's Book Council of Australia

The Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) who's motto is to engage the community with literature for young Australians, awards winner and honour books in each category as decided at the Judges' Conferences after extensive discussion and by secret ballot by the Judges. CBCA is a volunteer run, not for profit, organisation that was established in 1945 and is comprised of branches of individual members who are passionate about children's and young adult literature. The CBCA Book of the Year 2012 Winners are:-

Older Readers:The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner

Younger Readers:Crow Country by Kate Constable

Early Childhood:The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Picture Books:A Bus called Heaven by Bob Graham

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books:One Small Island: The Story of Macquarie Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch

The 2011 Winner was The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett

Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2013

The Waterstones Children's Book Prize was created to reward and champion new and emerging talent in children's writing. Now in its ninth year, the prize consists of three categories: picture books; fiction for ages 5-12; and teen books, to reflect the breadth of quality in children's books. "Within these shortlists are books containing great beauty, humour, intrigue, imagination and important things to say, but most crucially all are fantastically good reads. Their diversity and quality, carrying with them the stamp of excellence as awarded by our expert booksellers, demonstrates that the world of children's books is as exciting and innovative as ever." ~ James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones. The winners for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2013 have been announced.

Teenage Fiction and Overall Winner: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Age 5-12 Fiction: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Picture Book: Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb.

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Ketchup Clouds
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb

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